Author Topic: Warm Showers Reliability  (Read 9622 times)

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Offline hikerjer

Warm Showers Reliability
« on: July 05, 2018, 08:58:05 pm »
There have been some negative vibes about Warm Showers lately. I had planned on relying on them to a certain degree on my upcoming tour, but some of the recent comments have made me somewhat dubious. I guess my question is, what's your experience been and just how reliable is Warm Showers? I'm particularly interested in hosts in cities since I will camp in rural areas.  I have served as a host in past years (no takers this year, so far) and have always had positive experiences.

What say you?

Thanks.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 12:08:45 am »
There aren't always hosts where you want them, and when there are, they don't always respond, but if they're there and they respond, it usually is great! It's worth a try, but not reliable enough to count on.

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 12:28:15 am »
We've used WS all over the world and have hosted many. Every experience has been positive. As John said, you can't always find someone available where you'd like to be so don't count on WS your primary option. Besides, WS wasn't set up as a point-to-point chain of free places to stay every night. Lately, lots of new folks feeling entitled to a 4 star experience from someone offering their personal hospitality and home for free. It's probably just a sign of current attitudes for many.

Enjoy the ride,
Jay
ACA Life Member 368

Offline JHamelman

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 10:48:17 am »
I used Warmshowers on my trip last year and had all great experiences. (Ok, one was adequate and not great but that happens, it was fine.)

For hosts and guests alike you might check out our section on Bicycle Travel Etiquette via the How To page. It sounds like those already responding on this thread are experienced with Warmshowers on one or both ends of the equation, this is more for anyone new to the idea:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/how-to-department/bicycle-travel-etiquette/

Jennifer
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline jwrushman

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2018, 05:41:13 pm »
I recently returned from a bike ride from NJ to Wisconsin.  I never planned my lodgings too far in advance.  More than 2 days out, my estimate of mileage to be covered started to be unpredictable.  So I tried to plan accommodations 2 days in advance.  My "preference order" was:

1) WarmShowers

2) Bed, Breakfast and Biking website

3) Airbnb

4) Motels, hotels, from ACA maps

5) Motels, hotels from Google

6) Campsites

I camped a lot when I was younger.  As I get older, camping has less appeal than a hot shower and warm bed at the end of the day.

Six times I tried using Warm Showers.  One was successful.  Three times I got turned down.  Twice I didn't hear back.  This was the first trip where I attempted using Warm Showers.  Perhaps my request for accomodations wasn't well-written.  Perhaps 48 hours is too short a window.    The one time a host was willing to accomodate me, I had to decline.  I was ending my trip due to a health issue. 


I'll try Warm Showers again next year.  I just anticipate that the accomodations will likely not be available.

Offline canalligators

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 06:09:19 pm »
We have hosted many cyclists on WS.  Having cyclists stay was a great experience.  By and large, a great bunch of people.

I think one issue that may be troublesome is advance notice.  Many cyclists had a habit of contacting us on the same day, but with our schedules, we needed at least a day's notice.  Preferably two.  If we could fit them in on short notice, we would, but it seemed to be happening more often.  So we took a long term break from hosting.

When we travel by bike, we usually arrange for the next day's lodging each day.  That way we give the host (or motel) notice and know the plan, and have a day to adjust if there's trouble finding a place.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 08:45:42 pm »
Six times I tried using Warm Showers.  One was successful.  Three times I got turned down.  Twice I didn't hear back.  This was the first trip where I attempted using Warm Showers.  Perhaps my request for accommodations wasn't well-written.  Perhaps 48 hours is too short a window...

We have hosted many cyclists on WS.  Having cyclists stay was a great experience.  By and large, a great bunch of people...I think one issue that may be troublesome is advance notice.  Many cyclists had a habit of contacting us on the same day, but with our schedules, we needed at least a day's notice.  Preferably two.  If we could fit them in on short notice, we would, but it seemed to be happening more often.  So we took a long term break from hosting.

48 hours can be short notice for many people, so I can see why you didn't get a lot of responses on your tour, jwrushman. Plus, while there is a way to turn "off" hosting, most folks probably aren't going to do that if they are just gone a day or two, which means maybe a few of those non-responses happened when the host was out of town.

This is one of the reasons why WS asks you to post "Preferred Notice" in your profile. When I'm on the road, I check that if I'm asking for something soon (within 48 hours) because I don't want to bother folks. I also put my 72 hours advance notice prominently on my profile, since I'm not always home and I have to check in with roommates first. Before I did that, I'd frequently get same day/next day requests, which was getting frustrating. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for staying in Portland, and there are many hosts that can/don't mind hosting on short notice.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2018, 06:33:39 am »
48 hours can be short notice for many people, so I can see why you didn't get a lot of responses on your tour, jwrushman.
This is the crux of the matter for me.  I gave up on even trying to stay with WS hosts most of the time because I most often decide where I will stop when I get there.  Starting out in the morning I have the possible stops in mind, but don't actually decide until late in the day.  For me, planning ahead 48 hours only happens when the spacing of towns forces more planning than usual.

Hosts most often seem to want some notice and my decisions on the fly style just doesn't allow for that.  Your style may be different and none of that may apply.

Offline adventurepdx

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  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2018, 02:06:46 pm »
This is the crux of the matter for me...Hosts most often seem to want some notice and my decisions on the fly style just doesn't allow for that.  Your style may be different and none of that may apply.

There ARE hosts that are okay with last minute notice. I've had good luck with that a few times. It seems like people who live in rural areas (more likely to be home every night) are more welcoming to it than city-dwellers like me. I'd still take a look at Warmshowers and see what the "Preferred Notice" is for a particular guest.

Offline mucknort

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2019, 11:48:53 pm »
I’ve hosted many and been a guest at many. Here’s my WS strategy that works very well. I will contact 2-4 hosts in a town where I’m hoping to be hosted 3-7 days in advance. I’ll email/text saying, “I’m touring through your area and think I’ll be near you on this or that day. I’m wondering if you might be able to host?” If I get 3 positive replies in the same town, then I’ll pick one and then tell the other 2 thanks, but I’m covered. Then, when you are a day or 2 away you can confirm your exact arrival day. More often I’d only hear back from 1 or 2. By writing further in advance it gives folks longer to reply to you. I’ve found a number of folks only list an email address as a contact that they rarely check. It also gives you more time to find alternatives. And it gives hosts more time to check YOU out.
As a host, I always look up WS guests and read reviews given about them. Besides not giving enough notice (48 hours is less than what I’ve seen a lot of hosts prefer) the original poster may not have heard back from some hosts because he had not built up much reputation on his account. Especially if he was a man riding alone. One of the things that makes WS possible is that hosts and guests can look up the accounts of others and see what has been shared. If I get a request from a rider that has few or no write-ups, I’m likely not to reply back. The whole WS system is based on trust and a host has to trust that some stranger isn’t going to come into your house and cause mayhem, just as a guest wants to feel safe in someone’s home.
This is partly why I believe anyone that wants to go enjoy the (free) hospitality of others darn well oughta sign up as a host as well. Not only is it great payback for when you are a guest, but it also helps build your account reputation.
My last suggestion is to be a gracious guest and pick up a jar of jam, or bottle of wine, or basket of berries from a roadside stand on your way to your host. Sure it’s a couple of bucks, but the food, drinks, hospitality I’ve received at 95% of the hosts I’ve been to have far exceeded the small gift.
For me, the aspect that I most enjoy about WS is entering the house of strangers and then leaving the home of friends. Yes, it’s fun to meet and enjoy the company of fellow tourists in a campground, but you often learn so much more about a town/city/region through the eyes of someone that lives there and that you break bread with.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2019, 07:34:41 am »
I’ve hosted many and been a guest at many. ......
What a wonderfully educational post Mucknort.
Your detail has enabled me to warm up to this whole warm showers 'concept.'
- With cheerful regards.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2019, 10:38:59 pm »
Ditto. Great analysis and advice.

Thanks much.

Offline neil

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2019, 06:13:23 pm »
Mucknort makes lots of great points but by contacting 3-4 people should be done with care especially if you are using hosts who enjoy hosting such as ourselves. How would you feel if you had accepted a guest only to be told that Fred down the road had made a better offer? You may not say it, but it's implied.
We've been hosting for many years and have maybe 2 stay a year but warm showers is now far to big and that's the problem, because so many are on the list but with no intention to host and are effectively diluting out the good hosts, that's why cyclists are multiple requesting.
  Neil

Offline mucknort

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2019, 06:44:31 pm »
Dearest Neil,
I’m sorry if you interpreted my suggestion to contact 3-4 hosts in each town you’d be passing through as a form of playing beauty pageant judge. The main reason I do it (and the reason I’d suggested this practice to the original poster) has more to do with finding a successful connection rather than choosing the fairest in the land. After much experience with making WS queries, I’ve found more often than not that timing plays a great deal in finding an available host. Hosts might be on vacation, already be hosting someone else, having too much stress to host, not be checking their WS account, etc., etc.. By no means was I suggesting one books multiple hosts and then make a last minute choice on the “bestest” host. My suggestion was to contact several hosts, as far as advance as possible, and then if you were fortunate enough to get more than one “YES” to pick one and then let the other(s) know you found alternate accommodations ASAP. I’ve found that if you are really hoping/depending on accommodations that it’s too risky (and time consuming while on the road) to send out just one query at a time to a particular location. Because of all the reasons (and more) that I shared above, you may not hear back from your one request that they can’t host you (or hear nothing at all) until you’ve reached the place you need lodging, and then you are putting other hosts at a disadvantage by asking at the last minute, or scrambling to find a campground/coyote camp.

Offline neil

Re: Warm Showers Reliability
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2019, 07:11:16 pm »
Good response  :)
Finally, we had a bad year in 2017 with Warm Showers, 4 requests, one looking to do a cider tour with their friends, nope. Another turned up on foot, didn't even own a bike and had no intention of ever hosting. Another did the contact multiple contact thing (hence the comment) The last though was the worst. They booked , we agreed, and as we do we prepared the room, I arranged an earlier finish from work and we bought something for dinner (OK it's not in the rules, but that's what we do) She E Mailed 2 hours before arrival saying they were feeling strong, so would stay somewhere else.
When it works it's a beautiful thing, we used the original USA list in 1999 before Warm Showers. Maybe 250 Nationwide and we stayed with 5 families on a 7 month trip. It added to the holiday and we have fond memories of every stay. Today 200 sign ups to warm showers when an article talks about it, yes folks it's too big, what's needed is a core list again.
  Neil